â¿¿ RETAIL SALES. Just as household wealth has recovered, so has consumers' willingness to spend more to shop, eat out or go on vacation. That trend has spurred job growth at retailers and restaurants. Retail sales totaled $421.4 billion in February. Adjusted for inflation, that was nearly 18 percent above the recession low and just 0.7 percent below the record level in November 2007.â¿¿ LAYOFFS. The job market remains weak by some measures. But consider this: If you have a job, you're less likely to lose it than at any other point in at least 12 years. That marks a sharp turnaround from the depths of the recession, when layoffs soared â¿¿ from 1.8 million in December 2007 to 2.6 million in January 2009. In January this year, employers cut 1.5 million jobs â¿¿ the lowest monthly total in the 12 years the government has tracked such data. That explains why the number of people seeking first-time unemployment benefits each week has plummeted. That number reached 667,000 one week in March 2009, the most in nearly 25 years. Last month, weekly applications averaged 343,000, about the same as in November 2007, just before the recession began.
Where US Economy Has, And Hasn't, Yet Recovered
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